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Sentimental Bloke, The* (F.W. Thring, 1932) Efftee Film Productions, wr. C.J. Dennis, from his poems The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke; dp Arthur Higgins; Cecil Scott, Ray Fisher, Tal Ordell; 92 min.
Tal Ordell and Cecil Scott >
In adapting his own verse for the screen, C J Dennis retained the basic story of a larrikin's reformation through his love for an ordinary working girl. Fragments from the verse appeared in titles superimposed over action or over drawings by Hal Gye that had originally been published with the poems in 1915. Dialogues were rewritten by Dennis in prose and laden with up-dated colloquialisms. Although the language was handled with care, the staging was, as so often in Efftee productions, scarcely adequate: dialogues were presented in static camera set-ups, and the cast tended to play with theatrical emphasis and posturing, often falling into broad caricature. The contrast with the naturalism and relatively fluid movement of Longford's version was marked.
Distributed through Universal, the film opened in Melbourne at the Hoyts Theatre De Luxe on 26 March 1932. Box-office returns were generally strong, and it was one of the few Efftee films to recover its production costs.
Although most critics were either polite or evasive about the quality of the film, the Sydney Mail, 15 June 1932, criticised both the choice of subject and the treatment: the Bloke belonged to another era and in 1932 was nothing but 'a fabulous figure of pre-war days, slightly vulgar and ostentatiously common ... the players [perform] with an obvious spirit of burlesque. Practically every part is heavily over-played and emphasised'. Pike & Cooper: 156-7.
Pike, Andrew & Ross Cooper 1998, Australian Film 1900-1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, OUP, Melbourne: 89-91.
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